Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

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Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby cmdrajd » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:06 pm

I've decided it's time to fill one of the large gaps in my education by starting to read some classic science fiction. Despite having seen every episode of every incarnation of Trek ever and reading several dozen Trek novels over the years, I haven't really read many science fiction books (Unless you count the Hitchhiker's Guide series). I've never read Asimov, Ellison, Herbert, Farmer, or any of those guys, and frankly there's so much out there that I don't really know where to begin.

That's why I'm turning to all of you for suggestions.
I guess I should say something about my own preferences. I'm not big on fantasy. I want sci-fi, not swords, sorcery, wizards, and dragons. No offense intended to those who love fantasy, but I've read (and been seriously bored by) the Lord of the Rings novels. Harry Potter is as far as I go in that arena. I'm also not big on books that spend pages and pages and pages on long, drawn out descriptions of every little thing. That's great that an author has completely designed the sanitation system used by the species of aliens she's created, but I really don't need a whole chapter on it.

So, with that said, what have I been missing? What should I check out?
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby Star Traks » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:26 pm

cmdrajd wrote:...I've never read Asimov, Ellison, Herbert, Farmer, or any of those guys, and frankly there's so much out there that I don't really know where to begin.

That's why I'm turning to all of you for suggestions...


GTG soon - May I offer, as a minimum, one suggestion: Asimov 'The Foundation Trilogy'.

Best of Luck and enjoy !

Edit @ 10:27 am http://asimov.wikia.com/wiki/Foundation_trilogy
Last edited by Star Traks on Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby borgcrazy » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:48 pm

Wish I could help, Alan, but I'm pretty much in the same escape pod as you; just about the only thing I read outside of Trek are comics, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Oh, and the Halo books...
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby b-guy » Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:01 pm

I have a couple of suggestions...

Ender's Game - Definately worth reading. Definately a more military sort of science fiction, about a young boy being trained/indoctrinated to help Earth win an anticipated war against aliens. Amazing book though, definately gets you thinking.

Starship Troopers - Despite the moronic films made, this book was extreamly well written and entertaining. The first half especially doesn't necessarily strike as science fiction, as it's far more focused on the main characters boot-camp style training. There are starships, weapons, really cool mobile armour, bug-aliens and etc, but they're more part of a setting than major plot points.

You might also enjoy the Stargate series of books. Not the SG-1 novels, I'm referring to a series of novels that came out after the movie and went in a totally different direction. The titles were Stargate Rebellion, Retaliation, Retribution, Reconnaissance and Resistance.
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby Meneks » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:41 pm

Have you come to the right place....

Do you want hard sci-fi? Or a bit fluffier? Anyway, here's (more than) a handful of authors I like:

1. Herbert - Dune series. For whatever reason I'm most partial to Chapterhouse of Dune. Note that the continuation of the series by his son actually does work (most of the time).

2. Peter Hamilton - Reality Dysfunction trilogy - dense, but worthwhile

3. C.J. Cherryl - Several different series set in differing universes. Check out both the old and newer.

4. Dan Simmons - Hyperion series

5. Frederik Pohl and Jerry Pournelle - I lump these authors together because they often are found in collaboration, such as in Footfall and the Ringworld books. However, both authors are also just fine alone. I recently found an older Pohl at a second-hand store - "Man Plus". Great story, and I also adore the cover art from the 70's era paperbacks.

6. David Brin - Uplift series. Also Postman, among other stories (and much better than the mockery Hollywood made of the it).

7. David Drake, John Dalmas, Elizabeth Moon, Gordon Dickson - all good for military sci-fi. Note that Drake, Moon, and Dickson also have fantasy, if you check them out. I know you don't want fantasy, but Moon's "Deed of Paksenarrion" trilogy is excellent.

8. Robert Forward - Rocheworld series

Well, that should be enough to start you out. And that is only a very small selection of what is in my personal library.
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby cmdrajd » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:26 pm

Thanks for the recommendations, everybody. Reading through them reminded me that I have actually read "Ender's Game" (but none of the sequels) and the first "Ringworld" book. This gives lots of other things to check out, though. I'll post updates as I move through things.
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby borgcrazy » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:39 am

Oh! Seeing Pournelle's name on Menek's list reminded me of his collaborative novels "The Mote in God's Eye" and the sequel "The Gripping Hand". Both excellent reads.
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby cmdrajd » Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:25 am

Since Star Traks got his suggestion in first, I'm starting with The Foundation Trilogy. I just got it from the library yesterday. Thanks for all of the great ideas, guys. After Foundations, I'll sort through them and see what looks interesting.

One more question for Maija: I picked up Dune a few years ago at a yard sale, but I haven't opened it. I'm not a big fan of books with long drawn out descriptions of things that get in the way of the characters and the plot. A coworker warned me that I might not like Dune for that reason. What's your take on it?
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby Meneks » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:54 am

Hmm....I know what you are talking about. Personally, I like descriptions like that, but that is me. For instance, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings employs that type of prose, and you implied that because of such you were less than thrilled by the trilogy.

As far as Dune, I would not say it is overly description-dense. What it does have is politics. Lots of politics. There are several threads happening at the same time, wheels within wheels. There is the Spacing Guild, the Bene Gesserit, House Atreides/Harkonnen/Corrino, the Fremen, and Liet-Kynes's vision of Dune-to-be...to name a few of the players. There are the themes of religion, declining of empires, environmentalism, and resource limitations (spice as a proxy for oil) and monopolies. And Herbert often jumps around each chapter to a different primary character in order to keep all the balls in the air until they start to intersect. Finally, Dune starts to set up for later books, including the coming of the Tleilaxu and the replacement of the Guild Navigators by the Ixian machines [ahh...more 'declining empire' themes!].

If you do not like grand arcs, Dune is not for you. There are not necessarily *boom!* and *zap* and *ka-bang!* moments in every page. And, of course, if you're like me and ever saw the 1984 movie version of Dune, all you can envision when you read Dune is Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck and Sting as Feyd-Rautha.

Of course, if you are taking on the Foundation Trilogy (and the other related novels), and find you like it, you may enjoy Dune as well. Personally, I liked the Robot Series of Asimov better than Foundation Trilogy. Robots and Foundation eventually do merge in Robots and Empire.

Good luck!

Oh, and another author to add to the list if you want something a bit 'lighter' than the heavy hitters like Asimov and Herbert: Jack Chalker and the Well World books. Or if you do want fast-paced military adventure, check out Cobra series from Timothy Zahn.
Last edited by Meneks on Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sci-Fi Reading Recommendations?

Postby Meneks » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:18 am

Okay...I've a question for any other sci-fi and/or fantasy-o-piles out there. I am looking for stories that explore a particular theme. I would like to find stories of cultural assimilation, and what comes after. Usually, but not always, a baby or a child is adopted by the alien; and then the youth grows to adolescence or adulthood without knowing him or herself to be anything but a funny-looking person. Then comes the humans, who recognize the foundling for what he or she is. The plot usually makes a turn whereupon (1) the adoptee attempts to reassimilate into the human culture, or (2) rejects the human culture. The #2 option is more likely to happen is there is a war background happening, and there is need for the alien civilization to resist the aggressor humans/corporation/etc.

In real life, the above was seen in the Americas when Native American tribes would adopt white children (usually after killing the parents/relatives). For fictional interest, the character Hawkeye in "Last of the Mohicans", if I'm not misremebering the story too badly.

Of course, in a more extreme version, one can always look to the "feral children" who were virtually raised by dog packs.

As far as actual books:
*"Ganworld's Child" (Diann Thornley) [sci-fi] does start with this theme, but then moves away from it in subsequent novels to focus more on war and politics.
*Jan Lindskold's Wolf novels [fantasy] also explores the theme.
*"Cuckoo's Egg" (CJ Cherryh) [sci-fi] at first blush seems it should fall into the theme, but it does not because the protagonist always has an awareness that he is different...not to mention that the humans never show up in the story (nor were they meant to).
*At least one other that I just cannot remember the title to, just that one of the antagonists went by the name "Flenser" (as in to flense [flay] his enemies).

So, can anyone help me out? Suggestions?
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